By Jim Brumm
WILMINGTON, N.C. (Reuters) - A deck on a house on the North Carolina coast collapsed on Saturday as a family gathered for a photo, and at least 14 people were rushed to the hospital including several in critical condition, officials said.
The wooden deck at the house overlooking the ocean in Emerald Isle was one-storey high, officials said.
The injured were transported to hospitals from the scene, which is about 60 miles (96 km) northeast of Wilmington, police said. Three or four people were in critical condition, said Emerald Isle fire chief Bill Walker.
Walker said others with lesser injuries might not have been brought to hospitals. No details were available on the injured.
Authorities said a family had gathered on the deck to be photographed when it gave way. The cause of the collapse is under investigation, police said.
A nurse at Carteret General Hospital said the facility received 18 patients from the collapse and transferred two patients in critical condition to other hospitals.
One patient in critical condition was airlifted from the scene to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, southwest of Emerald Isle, said a nurse in charge at that facility.
Emerald Isle, a town of about 3,700 residents on the central North Carolina coast near the Croatan National Forest, is known as a vacation destination.
Several neighboring communities sent emergency units to the scene. Emerald Isle police chief Jeffrey Waters declined in an email to release further details.
The incident follows a deadly June 16 balcony collapse in Berkeley, California, that killed five visiting Irish college students and one American.
City inspectors found wooden support beams on the fourth-floor balcony were badly decayed, apparently from moisture.
(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by W Simon, Kim Coghill and Chris Michaud)